Les mamans : une cible   plusieurs visages

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  • Thought Piece2016

  • THE FACE OF MOTHERHOOD IS CHANGING. AS ONE OF THE UKS 18 MILLION MOTHERS, IVE GOT DIRECT EXPERIENCE OF THIS. I AM

    ALSO A RESEARCH DIRECTOR HERE AT IPSOS, HEADING UP THE QUALITATIVE DIVISION

    WITH IPSOS CONNECT, WHICH SPECIALISES IN COMMUNICATIONS.

  • Ipsos Connect recently partnered with Saatchi and

    Saatchi on some innovative research for Mumstock

    the annual Mumsnet conference. As an intriguing

    starting point to the study, Saatchi teams analysed

    internet parenting forums and collected what they

    described as 66 different identities that mothers

    were self-defining as at any given point. These

    ranged from being a lone parent to having a child

    with special needs. Saatchi and Saatchi tasked Ipsos

    Connect with taking this starting point and building

    out a clear vision of motherhood in the UK.

    WHAT WE DID

    First of all we undertook a nationally representative

    survey of 1977 mothers aged 16-60. We asked mothers

    to select and rank the identities that defined their

    outlook and behaviours in order of significance. We

    then ranked the identities in order of impact and

    influence on outlook for UK mothers.

    Next we then took a deep dive into the worlds of six

    mothers and their friends from around the country

    with the ambition of capturing their lives in their own

    words in a natural and non-inhibiting context. The

    deep dives initially involved in-depth home interviews.

    We then gave the mums a series of tasks they had to

    complete over the following week, including video

    blogs and a self-filmed evening with friends. After

    a week we collected the extensive video footage

    for analysis.

    The first phase of the research confirmed that there was

    a huge raft of identities which mothers said defined

    their outlook and behaviour. The sheer breadth of

    identities and the fact that so many respondents related

    to so many of them simultaneously gave us a tantalising

    insight into how much the universalistic understanding

    of motherhood has dissipated to be replaced with a

    particularised definition of motherhood in the UK.

    IN THE PAST COUPLE OF YEARS, I HAVE SPENT A LOT OF TIME THINKING ABOUT HOW PARENTHOOD IS CHANGING, BUT ALSO IMPORTANTLY, LOOKING AT HOW ADVERTISER ATTITUDES TO PARENTHOOD AND SPECIFICALLY MOTHERHOOD ARE CHANGING: HOW ADVERTISERS AND MARKETERS MAKE SENSE OF, AND COMMUNICATE ABOUT, MODERN MOTHERHOOD.

  • On average, each respondent had six identities they

    said defined them most. Modern mothers are a

    complex ecosystem of identities and some struggled

    with the idea of defining themselves narrowly. As a

    respondent in the survey said:

    I can empathize with many of these groups as I

    have been divorced, I have a son with autism, and

    I have twin daughters in their teens of which one is

    dyslexic. I have suffered miscarriage and the death

    of a younger sibling. I am supporting a parent who

    is terminally ill with cancer. My stepson is in a multi-

    cultural marriage and my children are mixed race.

    All of which are important factors in family life. I

    also run my own business and attempt to support

    all my family however I can.

    From personal experience as a working mother I know

    what it is to have multiple identities at any point in the

    day. And as our research demonstrated these multiple

    roles and identities are the norm for modern mothers. But

    are these multiple identities and roles reflected in current

    advertising which is trying to reach, engage and build

    loyalty amongst mothers? Our qualitative deep dives

    suggested not. There was a commonly held perception

    that advertising was projecting a one dimensional,

    alienating image of motherhood which failed to pick up

    on the increasingly varied and nuanced characteristics of

    modern mothering. As Michelle, a rural mother said,

    Adverts portray an idealised version of what being a

    mother should be, which doesnt feel representative

    of real mums. Being a mother is complex, from

    juggling a career to managing household chores I

    want to see this in advertising.

    Why is there a sense that motherhood today is more

    complex and nuanced? What are the drivers of this

    change? And how should the advertising industry and

    brands respond to these changes?

    There are two fundamental shifts that have occurred

    that are changing the face of motherhood globally.

    The first of these is the internet.

    Prior to the internet the experience of motherhood

    and ones hopes for it were dictated primarily by

    the immediate community of peers and relatives.

    The media, TV soaps, documentaries, newspapers

    and magazines offered a wider peek behind the

    curtains of other peoples experience of motherhood.

    But it was distant, fictional or marginalised even

    womens magazines tended to steer clear of regular

    conversations around motherhood. Women had to

    rely on niche titles such as Women and Baby to hear

    how other women mothered.

    Then came the internet, which has been instrumental

    in accelerating the pace of change for women and

  • mothers. It has given ordinary women a voice for the

    first time in history a platform to share what were

    traditionally considered to be private experiences.

    As a consequence, it has transformed the mainstream

    media voice to include the voices of women and

    mothers. The traditional view of how to mother is

    being eroded. In a sense, motherhood

    has fragmented. The internet is

    enabling mothers to learn from

    other mothers about the

    ways of being a mother

    beyond your immediate

    physical circle. Mothers

    are seeing that there are

    hugely different ways

    of mothering, choices to

    be made, and are actively

    seeking ways to make it

    work for them.

    The second factor is education around the world

    and in the UK. Globally, women are becoming

    mothers later than ever before, motherhood and

    parenthood is therefore more considered than ever

    before. The number of pregnancies among Under

    18s in England and Wales has plummeted 45%

    from 2007-2014 (ONS 2016). Girls are

    outperforming boys in school and

    women are now 35% more

    likely to go to university

    (UCAS 2015). It follows

    then that mothers in

    the UK are becoming

    more self-aware and

    self-reflexive than ever

    before. They know they

    are making choices about

    the sort of way they bring

    up their children.

    45%PREGNANCIES AMONG

    UNDER 18S IN ENGLAND AND WALES HAS

    PLUMMETED

    35%MORE LIKELY THAT WOMEN GO TO UNIVERSITY

    Source: ONS, 2016

    Source: UCAS, 2015

  • Its also worth bearing in mind that many millennial

    women are now becoming mothers (millennials

    are aged 16-35) with the average age of first

    time motherhood now 29 (ONS 2015). As with all

    millennials, new mothers have grown up in the UK in a

    mature media market, they are savvy to marketing and

    media messages and able to deconstruct messages

    with a critical eye. In many ways, millennial mums are

    more defined by their millennialness than by the fact

    they are mothers.

    HOW MARKETERS ARE RESPONDING TO THE

    CHANGING FACE OF MOTHERHOOD

    There is an industry-wide acknowledgment, as

    underlined by our research for Mumsnet and Saatchi

    and Saatchi, that marketers need to reflect the

    characteristics of modern motherhood better. What

    we found through our research was that UK mothers

    have a hugely diverse range of needs and outlooks

    currently untapped by advertisers.

    The mothers we spoke to shared a sophisticated

    understanding of their own life experiences, the

    challenges they faced as a consequence of their

    core identity and also, very importantly, a highly

    articulate critique of the advertising industry in relation

    to how it spoke to mothers. Advertising needs to

    work harder to truly engage and inspire them, to

    reflect their different needs and fundamentally, their

    lives. Manon, mother of a teenager said:

    I saw an advert when they said, Cmon girls, lets

    get cooking. And even my husband said, Thats a

    bit sexist!.

    Whilst Helena, a single mother, said advertising

    needed to portray single parenthood in a

    positive light.

    Marketing departments have a lot of mothers in

    them. But it appears as if, when marketers think

    about mothers as a target group they stop thinking

    about themselves and focus instead on an idealised

    universalist image of motherhood. But as a mother, it

    is absolutely important not to forget or discount ones

    own responses to advertising rather than falling back

    on a generic view of motherhood. Monique, a self-

    employed mum said:

    A lot of the ads look like theyve been made by

    people who dont have a clue what its like to be

    me. There must be [mums in advertising], they

    cant have an entire advertising industry without

    having mums involved, but it doesnt show.

    Another insight from our mothers is that if you speak

    to a specific sub category of mothers youre more

  • likely to ring true. Youll be communicating w